Sir Roger Casement was born outside of Dublin in 1864 and raised as a Protestant in Ulster. As an employee of the British...

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ROGER CASEMENT

Sir Roger Casement was born outside of Dublin in 1864 and raised as a Protestant in Ulster. As an employee of the British Foreign Office he exposed conditions in the Congo Free State, a private fief run for the personal financial gain of Leopold II of Belgium in which systematic murder and mutilation were used to compel natives to extract rubber from the jungle. (The book is well supplied with photos of handless natives and nativeless hands.) Casement was next posted to Brazil, where a similarly enlightened labor policy prevailed in Putamayo. Again he drew the world's attention to this atrocity. Finally, in 1914, he traveled to Germany to secure support for a rising in Ireland; unable to do so, he sailed by U-boat to Ireland in the hope of heading off the Easter Rebellion. For his efforts in the Congo he was made a Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George; for his efforts in Putamayo he was knighted; for his efforts on Ireland's behalf he was hanged. Casement has long been an enigmatic and compelling figure and has had no lack of biographers. His diaries, recounting in smarmy fashion his activities as a devout pederast, were used in 1916 to discourage support for a movement for clemency; since then they have been frequently denounced as forgeries by Irish partisans. Inglis has concluded that the diaries are authentic and makes an excellent case in that direction. The manner in which Casement's African and South American experiences engendered his intense Irish nationalism is elaborately developed. The author has quite probably written the definitive life of Roger Casement, but one can't avoid the feeling that he has told us more about him than almost anyone would care to know.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1973